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Customer service?

Old 08-04-16, 09:49 AM
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bittykitties
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Customer service?

Ok,

So I'm really new at everything biking. In the past I've simply gone to bike stores, bought bikes, and left. Never done any of my own maintenance/repairs, etc. (never fixed a flat even!)

Ok, well, I wanna reinvent myself, and figure the bicycle is a great launching-off point. So, I pull out our old bikes and look them over. My daughter's bike is in fine running condition, but the brake pads are rubbing on the wheel (rim brakes). My son's bike looks ok, except for 2 flat tires.

So, I go to my LBS (where I had bought both bikes previously), and ask if the guy (who is sitting behind the register, alone in the shop...) if he'd give me a quick tutorial on how to adjust the brakes so they won't rub the tire. His response was, "it took me 5 years to learn how to work on bikes, so I really couldn't show you how to do that". Well, ok.

So, I ask about the inner tubes for my son's bike, and he does get them out. I explain that his bike has bolts holding the wheels on, and could the shop sell me the tool to remove the bolts. Nope, have to go to the hardware store.

During this conversation (probably a total of 5-8 minutes elapse), he mentions twice that I might as well bring the bikes in. I explain that "what if I get a flat while out on the trail, it would be good for me to know how to do this".

So.. is this a typical experience in a bike shop? Nobody was rude or angry, I guess I left just feeling like I wasn't really getting much support.

Also, I asked about whether they carried any electric bikes, and he said they were planning to. I said cuz I'd like to try one out, and he said that's why they'll rent them. (It sounded like I'll have to rent one in order to test-drive it, but I'm not positive that's what he meant. Would that be normal? Should I be able to just go, and take a quick 5 minute test ride without actually renting it?)..

Anyway, I'm so new to all of this that I'm just not sure what I should expect when I go into a shop... don't wanna hold unreasonable expectations, but don't wanna get mistreated either. (To make clear, I DON'T think I was mistreated, maybe just a bit less than coddled...).

..Off to watch some you-tube videos re: brake work and flat repairs...

Last edited by bittykitties; 08-04-16 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:02 AM
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Maybe you could work a deal where you bring the bike in, pay them to do the maintenance and show you how at the same time. They're not really making much money and they're really not making much if he just teaches you how to do maintenance for free. I wouldn't fault them too much.

Of course, youtube has a zillion videos that show you how to do just about everything you need to do if you want to go that route.

Most of your maintenance tasks can be accomplished with some hex wrenches (usually the metric ones) and a screwdriver or two, and it sounds like you need a few simple wrenches for the wheel removal. (combination wrenches with an open end / box end are handy)
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Old 08-04-16, 10:23 AM
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Another source between professional bicycle service and DIY is a COOP. Volunteers to thr COOP teach bicycle maintenance.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:36 AM
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While I respect anyone's desire to expand their horizons and learn new things, I wouldn't expect a bike shop mechanic to teach you his trade.
If you want to learn how to fix things on your bikes, you tube has a wealth of short informative videos that will not only tell you what to do, when and ho, but show you too.
Also, every neighborhood has that "handy" guy, ask him for a lesson or two. He will do the work and explain to you the steps and then you can decide if it is within your abilities.
It's a bike, they are pretty simple but some of the higher end bikes are finicky and need an experienced set of hands.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:38 AM
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I guess I should have mentioned that I've bought at least 3 new bikes from this shop, plus several maintenance/repairs. I'm not a huge spender, and not a monthly regular, but they do stand to benefit from keeping me happy

I do have to admit that the times I've been in before there were other people working. This worker may be new.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:43 AM
  #6  
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My response:

1) The mech told you he wasn't going to teach you how to do something yourself.

Do you go into Valvoline and ask them to show you how to change your own oil? Bike shops bread and butter profits are on fixing bikes.

2) The mech told you to go to hardware store to get a wrench.

He's probably doing you a favor here, Home Depot will sell you a wrench that will work for a standard axle nut for a few bucks. The fancy "Park Tools" one from an LBS will cost $15-20. Do you seriously not have a Crescent wrench?

In my experience bike shops can be super helpful if you support them back by spending money at them frequently. They are businesses after all though.

As others have said: YouTube or Bike Co-op. Honestly though bike maintenance isn't hard.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:46 AM
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Oh, and feel free to ask here if you get stuck - somebody can help point you in the right direction.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:48 AM
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BTW you have to laugh at the idea that the guy spent 5 years learning to fix bikes.

The mechanics on here is very helpful. I sometimes post on there and am generally more helpful there than I am here.
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Old 08-04-16, 10:54 AM
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I don't expect anyone to "teach me their trade". It is my understanding that anyone that owns a bike really should be able to change a flat, at the very least. And when I've had them adjust brakes before, within a month they are rubbing again (so it seems that also should also be a do-it-yourselfer).

However, I guess it sounds like I really am expecting too much out of my LBS. I do appreciate the feedback.

Sigh.. I remember fondly an outdoor store in Pinedale, WY that would take the time to put up tents for me (and show me how to assemble them myself) so I could figure out which one would best meet my needs. I bought a good tent from them then, and again 10 years later when I lived 2000 miles away...
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Old 08-04-16, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bittykitties View Post
I don't expect anyone to "teach me their trade". It is my understanding that anyone that owns a bike really should be able to change a flat, at the very least.

He does know how to change a flat. What he's not there to do is to teach you how to change a flat. In addition to the other points made above, there is the issue of liability. It's one reason many shops won't lend out tools.
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Old 08-04-16, 11:06 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by bittykitties View Post
However, I guess it sounds like I really am expecting too much out of my LBS. I do appreciate the feedback.
Well it kind of depends on the bike shop and the person. Some bike shops are super helpful. Some are staffed by a combo of elitist snobs and disinterested teenagers/college students. The latter may be what you're experiencing here. I've experienced both.
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Old 08-04-16, 11:23 AM
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Actually, I didn't ask about how to change the flat, I just wanted to purchase the tool to get the bolts off the bike. I thought there were some kind of bike repair kits/multitools, etc. that he could sell me.

I was hoping he would quickly show me how to loosen the brake pads a bit so they wouldn't rub. If he wanted to charge me for the lesson, I'd probably have paid him!

My visit to the shop wasn't about wanting to get the world for free, it was about getting the tools (literally and figuratively) to be able to start/continue the hobby.
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Old 08-04-16, 11:25 AM
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Honestly I'm surprised the bike shop didn't have a fixie wrench they could have sold you for the wheel nuts. A typical bike multi-tool these days won't help you removing a nutted axle though, as most bikes (barring fixies) use quick release skewers for wheels.
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Old 08-04-16, 11:27 AM
  #14  
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Spring and Summer is prime time in the bike business. Fall and winter not so much, try then. I don't think Santa would want to show you how to build toys around Thanksgiving either.

The better stores, like REI and Performance, have bike maintenance clinics for noobs.
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Old 08-04-16, 11:34 AM
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Anyway, I appreciate all the ideas. I think I'll just have to go to some other shops and compare the experience.

Whatever shop treats me the best gets a customer
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Old 08-04-16, 01:01 PM
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Showing you how to put up a tent isn't the same as showing you how to adjust your brakes. The tent salesman isn't going to show up at your campsite and assemble your tent for a small fee, but you will bring your bike in for brake adjustments, now and again.

The co-op is a good option, if there's one near you. You can learn, and practice, with supervision.

Also, REI stores sometimes offer bike maintenance classes for free, or for a reasonable fee, so that may be another option.
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Old 08-04-16, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
Do you seriously not have a Crescent wrench?

Heh. I am far from a DIYer (I was proud that I was able to put on a new shower head a few months ago) and I even have at least one adjustable wrench in the house.
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Old 08-04-16, 05:38 PM
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Happy to report the tires are fixed (with only a couple tears when I couldn't get off the Peg. Turned out I needed a socket wrench set which did eventually turn up in the basement). Chain tightened, brakes adjusted. Mission accomplished.

Thank you Youtube, (and all you nice forum people!)

Oh, and after getting a new crescent wrench from Lowes, I found about 3 of them with the socket wrenches. sigh.

Last edited by bittykitties; 08-04-16 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 08-04-16, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bittykitties View Post
Happy to report the tires are fixed (with only a couple tears when I couldn't get off the Peg. Turned out I needed a socket wrench set which did eventually turn up in the basement). Chain tightened, brakes adjusted. Mission accomplished.

Thank you Youtube, (and all you nice forum people!)

Oh, and after getting a new crescent wrench from Lowes, I found about 3 of them with the socket wrenches. sigh.
Take the crescent wrench back to lowes if you still have a receipt

I always go the the shop that has the best customer service. See which ones are friendly and have time for you. Some shops in my area have ladies nite that show the ladies how to fix flats and adjust parts of the bike.

Last edited by cyclist2000; 08-04-16 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 08-05-16, 03:39 PM
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Some of my LBS' offer 'classes' on basic maintenance. They'll show you how do to some of these basics like adjust brakes, change tires and, otherwise, keep you rolling.

There's also a local CoOp that will show you how to do your own maintenance with their tools. I went there when I needed to fix my bottom bracket: It was an awesome experience that I strongly recommend. They also run regular 'classes' on how to do basic maintenance too.

My fallback has been YouTube when I'm in a pinch.
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